The final weekend is here, it’s time to take a break, turn off the phone and watch a lot of sumo. The lower divisions have all sorted out their yusho races, and it’s time for the top to divisions to settle up. Although Terunofuji has dropped 2 matches thus far, it’s going to be tough for any of the 10-3 rikishi (3 of them) to present a real challenge to the Yokozuna. None of them have yusho experience, all of them are ranked M6 or lower, and all of them have tough matches today.
There is a broad group of rikishi who enter the final weekend at 7 or 6 wins, straddling the make/kachi-koshi line. While we did not have an obvious “Darwin funnel” like we did in Nagoya, the chances that half of the 15 rikishi at this score will be around for a day 15 Darwin match are solid. This should give us 3 or so matches between 7-7 rikishi for a final bout to decide a winning or losing record. It’s brutal, it’s at time gratuitous, but it’s 100% sumo. For the 10 rikishi in the 7 win group today, it’s either kachi-koshi today, or enjoy Darwin tomorrow.
Because of that, I expect the fight card to be announced late on day 14, to give the schedulers a chance to make sure the last day has maximum brutality.
A win today by Terunofuji will assure him at least a playoff for the cup, and it’s possible all 3 of the hunters could taste dirt today.
Hunt Group: Onosho, Myogiryu, Endo
2 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Tokushoryu vs Kotoeko – Resurgent Kotoeko has a 8-3 career lead over Juryo barge captain Tokushoryu at 3-10. I think this is the big chance for Kotoeko to get his 8th win and stay out of the Darwin mill on day 15.
Aoiyama vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni is already kachi-koshi, and Aoiyama needs one more to make his 8. I don’t consider for a moment that Chiyonokuni will be anything less than completely brutal in his day 14 match. Both men prefer hitting hard and leaving their opponent in a heap. Could be a big match.
Ichiyamamoto vs Tobizaru – Both are make-koshi, and it’s not looking too good for Ichiyamamoto, who may be joining Tokushoryu on that barge. He is all even with Tobizaru in their career record, but Ichiyamamoto damaged a knee early in the basho, and really can’t move at all.
Shimanoumi vs Tsurugisho – Shimanoumi needs to win both to get to kachi-koshi, and loss today would be his 8th. I don’t see Tsurugisho putting up too much of a fight, so Shimanoumi is strongly anticipated to be 7-7 tomorrow.
Chiyonoo vs Terutsuyoshi – Chiyonoo is likely joining the barge back to Juryo, and I think this match be all about how far in the back he has to sit. For Terutsuyoshi, this Aki basho is shaping up to be his worst performance since his back to back 5-10 finishes last fall.
Ura vs Kaisei – Matching 5-8 scores, and I think that today’s match slightly favors Ura. I hope he resorts to his “grab and tug” style of sumo rather than his “pasticman” style of sumo. Kaisei is just too enormous for circus tricks.
Chiyoshoma vs Hidenoumi – If Hidenoumi can win today, he will be 7-7, and another strong Darwin candidate. I don’t know what is plaguing Chiyoshoma, but his record looks a lot like Kotoeko’s during the Nagoya basho. What ever is busted sir, please get it repaired.
Kagayaki vs Takarafuji – Oh man, a “mini-Darwin”! You know the schedulers are getting ready for tomorrow when they cook up a match like this. The winner gets a 7-7 Darwin record, and the loser is make-koshi. I favor Takarafuji to win, as Kagayaki once again is not really showing good sumo this month.
Tamawashi vs Chiyomaru – Tamawashi has an opportunity to send Chiyomaru into day 15 with the magical 7-7 score with a win today. We know that he dominates Chiyomaru most of the time (5-1), but is not been fighting that well this September. Should Chiyomaru win, its kachi-koshi for him.
Yutakayama vs Daieisho – If Yutakayama wins, he escapes the Darwin trap with a kachi-koshi. I had expected him to do much better than a final weekend decision for his fate this time out, but he seems to be barely holding his own at M14. Sad given that his highest ever kachi-koshi was a Maegashira 3.
Tochinoshin vs Kiribayama – Kiribayama, if you can’t beat a man with one leg, then you can face a Darwin match tomorrow. The winner of these two with matching 7-6 records will be the coveted 8th win, and the loser will probably face some other poor bloke with a 7-7.
Hoshoryu vs Chiyotairyu – Hoshoryu strongly favored to win this one, and relegate Chiyotairyu to a 7-7 record for day 15. Can you folks tell I am getting giddy with all of the potential? It’s not just low rankers. If anything its clustered toward the top of the banzuke.
Wakatakakage vs Takanosho – Can you taste the theme here? Another pair of 7-6 rikishi face off, winner is kachi-koshi, the loser probably gets a Darwin match tomorrow. I favor Takanosho to take this one, and send Wakatakakage into the decider on day 15.
Endo vs Ichinojo – This one is a bit of an odd match. Endo was severely under-ranked for Aki. This played at least a small role in his 10-3 score starting out today. He has been fighting ok, with a few really good matches. But because he is in the group 1 win behind yusho leader Terunofuji, he’s going to fight a high ranked opponent to “warm him up”. Sadly, its not just Ichinojo, but the genki form of Ichinojo. The Boulder has a 9-4 record of rolling over Endo, and he needs a win today to make his 8th.
Mitakeumi vs Okinoumi – In the consolation bracket, we have these two. A win today would give Okinoumi double digit wins for September, and that would be his best finish in 2 years. I hope he can make it happen, in spite of my bias toward Mitakeumi.
Onosho vs Meisei – Meisei needs to win today to avoid make-koshi, but that win tees him up for a Darwin match tomorrow. Onosho needs to win to stay 1 behind Terunofuji, and hope he can challenge him for the cup on day 15.
Shodai vs Myogiryu – Surprisingly, these two have an even 8-7 career match record. Shodai is already kachi-koshi, and will be happy to take more wins, but does not need them. Myogiryu wants to stay 1 behind Terunofuji and hope for a challenge to take the cup tomorrow.
Takakeisho vs Terunofuji – The big match at the of the penultimate day, it’s down to tadpole power vs the kaiju, with Terunofuji (in my mind) strongly favored in this match. Takakeisho will need to not let Terunofuji capture him and turn him into a sumo bowling ball. Strike hard, move sharp and keep the Yokozuna reacting.